Murphy reaches World Snooker final

Shaun Murphy has become the first qualifier to reach the Embassy World Championship final for 26 years after overwhelming Peter Ebdon 17-12 with a near flawless display.

Shaun Murphy has become the first qualifier to reach the Embassy World Championship final for 26 years after overwhelming Peter Ebdon 17-12 with a near flawless display.

Murphy, a 150-1 outsider at the beginning of the tournament, had been locked at 12-12 with 2002 world champion Ebdon going into the final session.

But the Rotherham-based player moved into over-drive to win five frames in a row to set up a meeting with either another qualifier in Ian McCulloch or tournament favourite Matthew Stevens.

The last qualifier to make the final was the unranked Terry Griffiths back in 1979 and he went on to defeat Dennis Taylor 24-16.

Taylor was amongst the first to heap praise on the performance of Murphy and said: "We have witnessed a performance from Shaun which has been a bit special - a remarkable effort.

"You would think he was playing in his local club rather than The Crucible. He used to chase after Steve Davis for his autograph as a lad. Steve might be running after Shaun the way he has played here!"

Murphy, a born-again Christian, had not even won a match at The Crucible until he overcame Chris Small in the first round a fortnight ago.

But he has produced superb snooker throughout and Ebdon was powerless to stop the 22-year-old from reaching the final on Sunday.

If Ebdon had hoped Murphy would crack under the pressure, then he was quickly disappointed and he looked as if he had been playing on this stage for years.

Murphy, who is coached by another professional in Harrogate's Steve Prest, showed great composure and was into his stride from the opening frame when a break of 62 edged him in front of Ebdon.

The next was a tense 37-minute affair - the sort of lengthy frame Ebdon had come out on top of in his go-slow quarter-final with Ronnie O'Sullivan.

But on this occasion the honours went to Murphy after a run of 47 had left Ebdon needing snookers.

Ebdon did not look at his best and Murphy cashed in again when he left a red hanging over the pocket after trying to screw the white ball back to safety.

A 72 break made it five frames in a row for Murphy, who turned professional as a 15-year-old, and he did even better in the last before the interval.

He put together a magnificent 123 clearance to send the audience wild with delight at their local hero - and he did not take long to complete his demolition job.

A superb long red gave him the opportunity to cross the finishing line - and he made no mistake with a 60 break before Ebdon offered his hand.

McCulloch had kept alive the prospect of two qualifiers contesting final as he continued to match tournament favourite Stevens frame for frame.

McCulloch and 2000 finalist Stevens began the third session locked at 8-8 and shared the eight frames to set up a thrilling finale on Saturday evening.

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